Expats blamed for high rental prices and cost of living in Amsterdam

While walking through the Ruysdaelkade, which is home to Amsterdam’s second largest red light district, I overheard a discussion between a Dutchman and a scantily clad bed bound entrepreneur. He asked her how much she charged for her services and when she told him, his response was “how much? Verdomme expats! Nothing is affordable in Amsterdam anymore”.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s post, expats being blamed for the high rental prices in Amsterdam.

dominatrix illustration

Damn expats, increasing the prices of everything!

AT5 blaming expats for high rental prices in Amsterdam

I often advise expats that if they’re planning to stay longer than a year in Amsterdam to learn Dutch. Once they start learning the language, one of the sites I advise them to read in order to get a good idea of what is actually going on in the city is AT5.  So you can imagine my surprise when I read an article with the emotive headline “Expats conquer the city: They pay 1700 Euros a month for rent”.

I couldn’t help wondering if the author of the article was recently dumped by an expat. Or perhaps they had a heated argument because the expat refused to dress up as Zwarte Piet in the bedroom. Whatever the reason, the author certainly does a good job at blaming expats for the high rental prices in Amsterdam. Here’s my response

So the Dutch are quiet?

Before diving into the rest of the anti-expat propaganda piece, I was amazed to see that the author had the bloody cheek to claim that a cause of nuisance and disruption to Dutch people in Amsterdam, is the loudness of Americans. Apparently, Americans are not only loud but also have a habit of using communal gardens far more than Dutch locals. This leads to problems as the Americans are so loud and keep having barbeques where they make noise.

Perhaps it’s a case of the Dutch and Americans being too alike that causes this. The Dutch are extremely loud. The idea that at the first sign of sun, that the Dutch aren’t out on terraces or in communal gardens making enough noise to drown out passing planes is belachelijk! (Ridiculous).  As per usual, there appears to be a complete lack of irony here.

Dutch neighbors

Airbnb rules in Amsterdam have changed so landlords are overcharging expats

Firstly, shed a tear for the poor property owners in Amsterdam, who are no longer allowed to rent out their apartments all year round on Airbnb.


New rules brought in by the City Council only allow owners to milk their apartments for sixty days a year, which is obviously not enough. So as a result of this, many Dutch landlords have had no choice but to focus on the expat market instead. This means that for an apartment where mice regularly hold rave parties and rodent orgies that the landlords can demand 1700 euros a month or more.

high rental prices in Amsterdam cash cow

High rental prices have nothing to do with me, blame the expats

Expats are to blame

It’s never the fault of the (Dutch) landlord that decides to offer an apartment to an expat for 1700 euros a month. Expats are to blame for paying that amount in rent. The fact that there are less rental properties available in Amsterdam is due to some of the following:

  • Property owners getting the appropriate licenses and turning entire buildings into bed and breakfast facilities
  • Hedge funds buying up property en masse in Amsterdam and often leaving them empty
  • The greed of Dutch landlords who not only charge outrageous rents but then attempt to hang on to the security deposit when expats leave

This is what has led to a shortage of affordable properties in Amsterdam. It’s a simple case of supply and demand. There’s a shortage of properties available to rent in the city due to some of the factors I’ve outlined above. This makes housing expensive for locals and expats.

Expats are rich and spoiled

The article claims that expats often have relocation packages as well as earning more than Dutch employees. This is true in some cases, but in fact, the author is misinformed and is living in the past. Prior to the financial crisis in 2008, it was common for multinationals to offer generous relocation packages. Nowadays, only senior executives tend to receive those.  Typical relocation packages for the majority of expats are not as generous as they were in the past. Just read this story about an expat who ended up homeless in Amsterdam. 

How AT5 sees expats


Not all expats have the 30% ruling

The article claims that expats often pay less tax than Dutch nationals due to the thirty percent ruling. But there are strict terms and conditions to be met in order to qualify for that tax benefit. Many expats don’t have this.

An expat applying for the 30% ruling


Expats throw rubbish on the street

Having lived in several Amsterdam neighborhoods, including the Pijp. The idea that expats just throw rubbish on the street any day they please, due to ignorance of local rules, while conscientious Dutch people only put their rubbish out according to the rules is downright insulting and offensive. I’ve witnessed Dutch people dumping rubbish not only on the street but directly in front of waste containers.  What utter nonsense!

nonsense written about expats

Question from a reader


Rental prices are increasing due to a number of factors that I’ve outlined in this article. The reality is that some expats do end up paying more rent than locals. Often as soon as a landlord realizes that an expat is interested in a property they charge more than they would a local. This is largely due to the myths perpetuated by AT5 and others that all expats are rich and ripe for milking.  A lot of expats move to Amsterdam due to their jobs. They often have little knowledge of the local rental market and whereas a Dutch person might negotiate for a reduction in the rental costs an expat may not be aware that this is even a possibility.

When some rental agents see an expat, they can hear the sound of cash registers ringing and go out of their way to make as much money as possible.

A happy Dutch landlord with an expat tenant


Who is to blame for the rental prices in Amsterdam?

The free market. Plain and simple. If you don’t like it rot op naar Nord Korea, but don’t blame expats when it’s clear that Dutch banks, businesses, and greedy apartment owners are absolutely complicit in causing this situation.

My advice to expats who believe that they’re paying too much rent is to contact the huurcommissie.  Go ahead and make your landlords day.

A Dutch landlord after a visit from the huurcommissie


No expats were hurt during the writing of this post

Till next time ‘hou je snavel!’